It's Saturday, which means that my teenage daughter and I get to sleep in an extra hour before we start our daily dance.
That's not a poetic symbol (or even a euphemism) for life or anything. It truly feels like we're dancing.
I take three steps toward my partner; she either ignores me or spins around with an exasperated flourish. I retreat, gingerly stepping backwards, mindful of discarded clothes and schoolwork and empty snack bags that litter her carpet. But, I return minutes later to face the music again. This goes on for ten, twenty, sometimes thirty minutes — despite my best efforts and despite not one but two alarm clocks she's set to sound intermittently.
It's a sinister salsa, a terrifying tarantella. A dance to the death.
And, to date, my daughter is winning. She rolls over, reaches out for the snooze alarm and — "Olé!" — we begin again.
Sometimes, when we're in between moves, I'll head down to the kitchen to cut some fruit or pack her lunch. I need to make coffee, feed the dog and get ready for my morning walk. Or I might have some overnight emails from clients or colleagues to review. Often, after my fourth or fifth trip up to the dance floor, I'll ask my husband to take a turn.
"Nooooooo," I'll hear the child wail from the bed. "I'm soooo tired."
"This has to stop!" I'll hear her father say.
It's not like I don't know what's going on here. My daughter is tired. She does have too much homework. She does spend too many hours at the stable on her horse. (She also spends too many hours on Netflix watching One Tree Hill. WTF?) And of course, there's all that texting she's expected to do. And Snapchat and Instagram and Vine and ... God knows what else. (God may know; I certainly don't.)
Plus, there's scientific (And therefore irrefutable, right? Unless you're the GOP. Wink, wink.) evidence that teenagers need more sleep — and at different times — than we grownups do. When my daughter argues that going to bed earlier won't help, she's actually half right.
So, here I am. One mother of a human alarm clock. We dance back and forth every morning, as we dance around the fact that we only have a few months of mornings left. I can't very well fly to Ohio or Vermont or New Hampshire or Rhode Island at 6:00 am each day once college starts in the fall.
Of course, she can take the route my freshman roommate (and so many other enterprising students) did back in 1980: only register for classes that begin after 10:00 am. But, that might limit what she studies.
Or, perhaps she'll rise to the occasion. She'll make her own bed. She'll do her own laundry. She'll read and study and write papers without my nagging. She'll dress appropriately for inclement weather. She'll take her vitamins. And, she'll get up on time.
I hope so.
But, I think I'll buy her another alarm clock. Just in case.
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